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Thank teachers for education research

By September 28, 2012June 13th, 201610 Comments

Research teacher blog

Researchers and educators hear a lot about the importance of experimental research, but experimental studies can seem like expensive efforts just to answer “Did it work?” especially if it the answer is “no.” Fortunately, because of the teachers who participated in one experimental study, we didn’t have to stop at no. We were able to go on and ask “why didn’t it work?” and “what can we study now?”

In 2006–2011, we evaluated a textbook-based professional development program in classroom assessment. The study featured an instrument designed to measure teachers’ classroom assessment practices by systematically collecting and rating samples of student work. Teachers sent in four examples of anonymous, assessed student work that included their feedback and a cover sheet that asked them to describe the assignment and how it was assessed. While teachers in the treatment group increased their assessment knowledge and their use of student-involved assessment, student mathematics scores did not increase relative to the control group. Therefore, the answer to “Did it work?” was “mostly no.”

However, during the study, we heard spontaneous feedback from participating teachers that they wanted to see others’ work samples. Some teachers mentioned that the assessment textbook presented few examples from mathematics, so although they felt they could apply the formative assessment techniques to language arts and social studies, it was more difficult with mathematics. They commented that peer review of mathematics assessments could be more effective and could sustain greater interest over time than studying a textbook. This feedback got us thinking about the next step—developing a new professional development program in formative assessment for middle school mathematics called AWSM (Assessment Work Sample Method). It is job-embedded, mathematics-specific, and features supportive peer review of authentic work samples. We’re just getting started with a pilot school now and are excited to see how the program develops.

We are always grateful to teachers who participate in our studies. Taking extra time to participate in data collection for research is only one of many ways that teachers demonstrate their commitment to the education profession. Researchers would know very little about education without the teachers everywhere who graciously allow us into their classrooms or fill out surveys and participate in  interviews. They also help us figure out what’s next when we’re searching for answers after an study.

If you’re a teacher or school administrator, have you participated in a research study? What was your experience with it? What makes you decide to participate?

Written by Andrea Beesley, McREL senior director in research & evaluation.

McREL is a non-profit, non-partisan education research and development organization that since 1966 has turned knowledge about what works in education into practical, effective guidance and training for teachers and education leaders across the U.S. and around the world.


  • Tanya Finger says:

    My school district attempted to evaluate student work in various levels of readiness in order to critically increase the scores and authentic assessments for our students. The implementation of formative assessments, which are relevant and rigorous enough to meet the standards, are essential to student achievement particularly in mathematics. I’m interested to know that your first attempt didn’t work, however, you initiated changes to improve through interventions. Please let me know if the new measures and data strategies work with student achievement, so I can share with my PLC’s.

  • Taking extra time to participate in data collection for research is only one of many ways that teachers demonstrate their commitment to the education profession.Researchers and educators hear a lot about the importance of experimental research, but experimental studies .

  • Everytime we need to give thanks to our teachers. Because they do some good research and provide us good education.

  • Andrea Beesley says:

    Tanya, in the professional development program we’re developing, we’re conceiving of formative assessment as something that infuses the entire learning process. We’re hoping that teachers who are selecting and communicating learning goals, aligning those goals to appropriate tasks and assessment criteria, and providing descriptive feedback that involves students in assessment will see an increase in student achievement. We will have some results shortly after the end of this year that we can share!

  • Very true Teachers have high knowledge and focus on what we need to improve..So Everytime we need to give thanks to our teachers!

  • I believe that many of teacher are really doing their best even sometimes they are failing.I agree we always as why for it.In Helsinki Finland many of teacher in training courses are really professional which they give their student a good education background and for me i love that.

  • Without them, we will not learn and have the knowledge of a certain thing or topic. We should thanks them especially in research activities.

  • Modern education reforms are increasingly driven by a growing understanding of what works in education and how to go about successfully improving teaching and learning in schools.

  • I believed that a student success will begin from that great help of our teacher. They have fully exerted their effort on teaching on us just to make sure that we will be able to learn different subjects that is important in our study.

  • Akram Khan says:

    Yeah with true teachers help we can make it possible about research and good research work emerge

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